It is nearly 4 months since Occupy London began their demonstration against “corporate greed” in the grounds of St.Paul’s cathedral – in their words “reclaiming space in the face of the financial system and using it to voice ideas for how we can work towards a better future.” A future apparently free from “austerity, growing inequality, unemployment, tax injustice and a political elite who ignores its citizens”, but with little convincing arguments concerning the creation of this idealised future. However, as Michael Evamy notes in Creative Review, Occupy London is unique among the 1500+ occupations to have sprung up in protest of financial institutions by adopting a potent, recogniseable visual identity.
In November 2011, the protesters were the target to complaints and a legal threat from TfL for adapting the famous blue-and-red Tube roundel for their cause, which had been loosely applied to the Occupy London website and its social media presence. TfL argued, rather diplomatically, that because TfL was publicly-funded and “non-political”, it could not be seen to endorse the campaign. Occupy London fortunately agreed although not without a snub at the network’s rising transport costs for commuters. The group then agreed to crowdsource a new logo – inviting supporters to get involved (on top of camping!) as part of an “online direct democracy”, with rather specific criteria. Notably the new logo had to be –
– Original. Images based on existing corporate logos or any variations thereof cannot be used.
– Reflect what the Occupy movement stands for. Some key words that might help: Democracy, Equality, 99%, London, Global Movement, Occupy.
– look good in black and white, so that it can used on different coloured backgrounds.
– be neutral: it cannot resemble the imagery of any political party or similar institution.
The eventual winner, of an 18-strong shortlist was Jonathon Barnbrook‘s target-style ‘OL’ symbol, which unusually has a nostalgic, wartime undertone of London in the 1930s, in addition to placing a strong bullseye and arrow focus on the here and now. I like how confrontational the design is, and also how it suggests resilience, strength and lack of compromise – all qualities that Occupy London wants to be associated with, and also ironically characteristics linked to the financial systems and corporations that Occupy London is trying to attack. The logo pays homage to the movement’s attempts to establish a collective and strong identity for itself (as opposed to just taking an anti-this, anti-that stance) and introduce change, with the logo alluding to the direct and visible nature of the movement.